JavaFX evangelism: Why developers should have faith

As Flash and Silverlight RIAs fade, Oracle's plan to remake JavaFX as a Java library environment could actually work

Oracle is still at it, pitching JavaFX -- the open source, Java-based rich client development technology -- to developers. Never mind that Adobe has thrown in the towel on Adobe Flash as an RIA (rich Internet application) enviroment on mobile computing platforms and that Microsoft has all but abandoned Silverlight for Web applications.

A few months ago, Oracle hired Stephen Chin as its chief JavaFX evangelist, and it released JavaFX 2.0 last fall. Chin had shepherded the Visage language project, a successor to the JavaFX Script language discontinued earlier this year. Now that he's been on board at Oracle for a bit, Chin has started evangelizing. At a developers conference recently, for example, he reiterated Oracle's intent to have JavaFX running on both iOS and Linux tablets.

Chin also repeated a slew of promised JavaFX benefits for developers: It can integrate with JavaScript, Java, and HTML5 in the same application. Developers building with JavaFX can use their favorite IDEs, including Eclipse, NetBeans, and JetBrains IntelliJ. JavaFX can work with a multitude of languages running on the Java Virtual Machine, including Clojure, Groovy, and jRuby. And it's open source.

Still, it's unclear why developers not wedded to Java would adopt JavaFX. HTML5 is becoming the technology of choice for rich media applications, thanks in no small part to Apple's, Google's, and even Microsoft's embrace of HTML5 on mobile devices.

JavaScript, of course, is synonymous with browser application development, so perhaps JavaFX can carve out a niche among developers who embrace the Java ecosystem. After all, there are plenty of those.

JavaFX is evolving into a library and has a future as a Java UI, says IDC analyst Al Hilwa. "The unique scripting language is out, and what's in is a vision of a library of UI components that can be leveraged for different platforms, including mobile and desktop platforms. In a sense, JavaFX is evolving to be the strategic future UI technology for Java.... At least that is the vision."

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